I went to my first atheist funeral yesterday. I had been to half of one Czech funeral before, but that had been a Catholic funeral. That was 10 years ago in České Budějovice and we had arrived very late because of the difficulty of driving down there in the aftermath of a blizzard. Yesterday’s funeral was here in Prague, and these are the thoughts I had afterwards.
What a fucked up funeral. Sváťa said that it was fairly typical for a Czech funeral, which I find very depressing.
The doors were opened promptly at 10. We filed into the ceremonial hall, which was way too small for the number of people that had come. I think there were about 80 of us, but I am not very good at estimating. Sváťa stepped just to the right side of the door and pulled me to stand in front of him. We were at the back and I could see almost nothing because other taller people were standing in front of me. Music was playing as we walked in – Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water”. The people that had brought flowers walked straight to the front and put them down before taking their places sitting or standing.
Did they put the flowers on or around or near the coffin? I don’t know because I couldn’t see and I didn’t think to ask Sváťa later. What a waste of flowers.
Then a second song came on, some cheesy Czech shit. Then the only speaker – a man from the funeral service who spoke for about two and a half minutes. Totally impersonal crap about how we had all come to say farewell…
Then a few more cheesy songs – Czech country, believe it or not. They must have been Jirka’s favourite songs, but I never knew that he had such terrible taste in music. All those years of living above Jáma the rock ‘n’ roll pub obviously hadn’t helped. And it was really so awful that I had to put all of my energy into keeping myself from laughing.
As the final song neared its end, I saw people start to stand. I wondered why and how they knew to stand, and then I noticed that the curtain was closing.
The song ended, the curtain was closed completely, and the doors behind us were opened from the outside. And that was it.
There was no line of nearest and dearest to whom to offer condolences, and no invitation to somewhere for a drink. Our dozen or so former colleagues stood around for a bit and then starting saying goodbye. And in the end, Sváťa and I went for a coffee – just the two of us. Sváťa explained to me on the way that Jirka would be cremated later when there were enough bodies for the fire.
That funeral was so shit that it actually made me glad there had been no funeral for Jarda.
Contrast Annie’s funeral.